Artificial sweetener is one of the most attractive substitutes to sugar as it does not add many calories in our diet. It can be used directly in the processed food as in puddings, dairy products, candy, soft drinks, baked goods, jams and many other foods and beverages. It can also be used as a mixture on mixing it with starch-based sweeteners. The sweetness is many times than regular sugar, so they are also referred to as intense sweeteners.
How does artificial sweetening agent works:
A sweetening agent should be soluble in water for it to work properly. It should also readily bind with a receptor molecule present on the surface of the tongue. The receptor is actually connected with a G- protein. The G- protein starts dissociating when the sweetener binds with the receptor. This in turn activates a nearby enzyme and triggers a sequence of events in which the signals are transmitted to and are interpreted by the brain. The interaction between the receptor and sweetener shows the sweetness of an artificial sweetening agent.
Common Artificial Sweetener
- Saccharin: It was discovered in 1879 and is considered as the oldest non-nutritive sweetener. Sucrose is around 300 times less sweet when compared with saccharin, but it has a bitter aftertaste. It cannot be used in products where baking of food is necessary as it becomes unstable when it is heated. But it can be used to sweeten candies, drinks, and toothpaste.
- Aspartame: In 1879 Aspartame was discovered and it was found that it is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is a dipeptide methyl ester and its name is aspartyl phenylalanine-1-methyl ester. It is commonly used as a table top sweetener and is also used in a variety of foods. When it is heated it breaks down into amino acids and loses its sweetness, so it cannot be used for the baked foods. As it becomes unstable at cooking temperature, it is only used in soft drinks and cold foods.
Advantages of artificial sweeteners:
- Weight Control: If someone wants to lose their weight then they should use an artificial sweetening agent as virtually it carries zero calories. By eating 1 teaspoon we gain 16 calories. Therefore it’s the best option when it comes to weight control.
- Diabetes: It does not raise the blood sugar levels because it does not contain the carbohydrates in it. This way it helps controlling diabetes.